A wind-tossed grapevine, heavy with ripening fruit, is rendered with masterfully fluent brush techniques. The sway of the serpentine branches is executed with strokes of changing speed and pressure to suggest both contour and volume in a technique known as “flying white” (in which areas of unpainted silk are left visible). The contrasting textures of the plump fruit and fragile leaves are achieved with carefully modulated tones of ink.
Along with the so-called Four Gentlemen (plum, bamboo, chrysanthemum, and orchid), the grapevine was a favored motif among literati painters of the Joseon dynasty. As a vehicle for displaying the artist’s calligraphic techniques and styles—a talent every scholarly gentleman was expected to possess—ink monochrome works of grapevines were considered a worthy part of the literati painter’s repertoire.